The defending champion Los Angeles Kings defended home ice with a 3-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks in Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals Thursday night.
Anze Kopitar, Slava Voynov and Jonathan Quick were the heroes for the Kings.
It was a relatively clean first period with only one penalty.
The Kings' Jeff Carter got two minutes for boarding Matt Irwin 5:28 into the game, but, minus a couple of long slap shots by Irwin and Dan Boyle, the Sharks didn't threaten much during the ensuing power play.
Despite the lack of penalties, however, that doesn't mean it wasn't physical. The Kings racked up 24 hits in the first period alone, making it known that they came to play and to protect their Staples Center ice.
The one and only Tom Cruise was in attendance, via C.J. Fogler:
Tom Cruise watching Kings vs Sharks in LA twitpic.com/csqy3y— CJ Fogler (@cjzero) May 24, 2013
Neither team scored in the first 20 minutes. Los Angeles managed nine shots on goal during the first period, while San Jose registered six shots. It was clear coming into the battle that Antti Niemi and Jonathan Quick would make life tough for the offenses, but the defenses helped out early on, too.
Larry Beil of ABC 7 News in San Francisco tweeted:
Hard hitting, defensive battle in game 5 of #sharks-kings series. Scoreless after 1st period— Larry Beil (@LarryBeilABC7) May 24, 2013
End of one period: Sharks 0, Kings 0. Shots were 9-6 for Kings. But Kings had more hits in 1st period than Dodgers have had this season.— Helene Elliott (@helenenothelen) May 24, 2013
The Kings once again came out firing early in the second period, playing aggressive hockey and keeping the Sharks in their zone for the most part. But the Kings were still unable to get much going on the offensive end, failing to score or even draw a penalty from San Jose.
Kings with another strong start here in 2nd period. Sharks can't get out of their own zone— Eric L. Smith (@Eric_L_Smith) May 24, 2013
While there weren't very many penalties, there were plenty of whistles for icing. There were six stoppages for icing in the first eight minutes of the second period.
At the 11:19 mark, the Kings were the ones to commit another penalty. Kyle Clifford was whistled for charging Patrick Marleau.
But it was the short-handed Kings that actually threatened more, with Dustin Brown's wrist shot from 13 feet being saved by Niemi.
Los Angeles was awarded a power play a few seconds after San Jose's ended when Jason Demers boarded Robyn Regehr. But the Kings weren't even able to get off a shot on goal.
After some back and forth, the Kings finally got on the board at the 18:08 mark of the second when Anze Kopitar flipped it home from point-blank range off a rebound, assists going to Clifford and Justin Williams.
Sharks dodging bullets like Jules Winnfield but can't stop em all as Kopitar makes it 1-0 Kings late in 2nd period.— Jamie Baker (@Bakes_Jamie13) May 24, 2013
After San Jose's T.J. Galiardi was hit with interference at the 18:50 mark, Jeff Carter's attempt from 11 feet was saved brilliantly by Niemi, keeping the Sharks within range headed into the final period.
A mere 53 seconds into the third period, the defending champions struck again. This time, it was Slava Voynov, who connected on a 50-foot wrist shot off an assist by Trevor Lewis. The Kings had the lead, 2-0.
Of course, TheRoyalHalf.com knew better than to call it a game:
“I’m totally confident with a 2 goal lead in the 3rd Period of a playoff game with the Sharks.” - no sane LA Kings fan ever— The Royal Half (@theroyalhalf) May 24, 2013
San Jose was awarded a power play at the 10:26 mark when Kopitar was whistled for tripping Joe Thornton. But two shots on goal by the Sharks were saved by Quick and time was ticking for San Jose.
San Jose's James Sheppard was given two minutes for roughing Mike Richards at the 13:36 mark. The Kings got off three shots during the ensuing power play, but they were all blocked by the Sharks.
The Sharks' last-ditch effort down the stretch ultimately came up short, as Jeff Carter finished off the win by swinging the puck into the open net with 32 seconds remaining.
The Kings racked up 29 shots and 51 hits in the 3-0 victory, while Quick saved all 24 attempts by the Sharks.
Game 6 is slated for Sunday in San Jose, with the Kings leading, 3-2.